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Monday, October 31, 2005

A False Dichotomy: Absolutism v Relativism (Part 1)

This whole Miers episode has really made me think about where I fit in politically and philosophically. On one hand I keep hearing that the Miers withdrawal is a slam on evangelicals, who supported Miers wholeheartedly. Marvin Olasky, editor of World Magazine, referred to "an anti-evangelical undertone" in the criticism of Harriet Miers. Yet I, along with most of my evangelical friends, opposed wholeheartedly the nomination of Miers. I find myself bumping up against these things quite often: as an evangelical, I am supposed to take a certain position on an issue, yet I find myself disagreeing with the supposed "evangelical position". Here are a few more examples:

Gary Bauer recently had this to say about Jimmy Carter being an evangelical:
"As an evangelical Christian, I am pleased by the opportunity to have another evangelical Christian on the Supreme Court, and I am personally comforted by her faith perspective. But that alone says nothing about one's views of constitutional law, and in the case of Miss Miers there is, unfortunately, virtually no legal record on major issues to examine.

For example, Jimmy Carter, by all accounts, is a born again believer, even a deacon in his church. That has obviously had little impact on his views of law and public policy as it relates to values issues, like the sanctity of life. "
Am I the only one disturbed by the implication here that Jimmy Carter pays little heed to his faith in Christ as it relates to politics?

Stacy Harp
recently wrote about an episode in which gay activists "intimidated" a student who decided to protest a "Coming Out" day by wearing a t-shirt that said "Homosexuality Is Wrong". As I wrote in my previous post, I am disturbed by the free speech issues on university campuses. However, why would we as Christians support such a thing? I might as well wear a shirt that says "I AM WRONG". I think that would send a better message and one more in line with the Gospel of Christ.

So what the heck is going on here? Why I am finding myself often at odds with prominent spokemen of the evangelical conservative movement?

I think it comes down to the issue of absolutism v. relativism.

I have long believed, as do many evangelicals, that the concept of truth is a very important thing. Most evangelicals believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth, that things are "black and white", that relativism is one of the great dangers confronting our society today. It doesn't take much perusing of a Christian bookstore to see that relativism has become almost enemy number one.

This is a rather crude way of putting it but pretty well describes how many conservative evangelicals view things. And I actually believe much of it. However. Ah yes, the "however".

I am discovering that there is not simply a stark choice between abolutism and relativism. There actually is another way. A third way. (I actually hate that term but couldn't help but use it :)

I'll go into more detail tomorrow about the nature of absolutism and relativism.

Update: Here is Part 2.

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